Machiavelli, Volume I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 391 pages of information about Machiavelli, Volume I.
what course should we take if they retir’d, how should we follow them? and thus on the way, propounded them all such accidents could befall in any army; would heare their opinions, and tell his owne, and confirme it by argument; so that by his continuall thought hereupon, when ever he led any army no chance could happen, for which he had not a remedy.  But touching the exercise of the mind, a Prince ought to read Histories, and in them consider the actions of the worthiest men, marke how they have behav’d themselves in the warrs, examine the occasions of their victories, and their losses; wherby they may be able to avoyd these, and obtaine those; and above all, doe as formerly some excellent man hath done, who hath taken upon him to imitate, if any one that hath gone before him hath left his memory glorious; the course he took, and kept alwaies near unto him the remembrances of his actions and worthy deeds:  as it is said, that Alexander the great imitated Achilles; Caesar Alexander, and Scipio Cyrus.  And whoever reads the life of Cyrus, written by Xenophon, may easily perceive afterwards in Scipio’s life how much glory his imitation gaind him, and how much Scipio did conforme himselfe in his chastity, affability, humanity, and liberality with those things, that are written by Xenophon of Cyrus.  Such like wayes ought a wise Prince to take, nor ever be idle in quiet times, but by his paines then, as it were provide himself of store, whereof he may make some use in his adversity, the end that when the times change, he may be able to resist the stormes of his hard fortune.

CHAP.  XV

Of those things, in respect whereof, men, and especially Princes, are praised, or dispraised.

It now remaines that we consider what the conditions of a Prince ought to be, and his termes of government over his subjects, and towards his friends.  And because I know that many have written hereupon; I doubt, lest I venturing also to treat thereof, may be branded with presumption, especially seeing I am like enough to deliver an opinion different from others.  But my intent being to write for the advantage of him that understands me, I thought it fitter to follow the effectuall truth of the matter, than the imagination thereof; And many Principalities and Republiques, have been in imagination, which neither have been seen nor knowne to be indeed:  for there is such a distance between how men doe live, and how men ought to live; that he who leaves that which is done, for that which ought to be done, learnes sooner his ruine than his preservation; for that man who will professe honesty in all his actions, must needs goe to ruine among so many that are dishonest.  Whereupon it is necessary for a Prince, desiring to preserve himselfe, to be able to make use of that honestie, and to lay it aside againe, as need shall require.  Passing by then things that are only in imagination belonging to a Prince, to discourse upon those that are really

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Machiavelli, Volume I from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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